इंडियन आवाज़     21 Feb 2024 03:15:57      انڈین آواز

Army officers played a big role in Hashimpura massacre: VN Rai

Vibhuti Narain Rai, an IPS officer, was posted as superintendent of police, Ghaziabad when 42 innocent Muslims from Hashimpura in Meerut were picked up and killed in cold blood by the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) near Murad Nagar, close to Delhi border.

VN RAIIn an interview to Manan Kumar of DNA, Rai revisits the long chain of events following the massacre and points out what went wrong where in meting out justice to the victims that has turned out to be one of the biggest blot on Indian secular fabric.

What did you feel when after 28 long years of wait, the alleged culprits got away without any punishment?

The judgment was unfortunate but was on expected lines. Right from the very beginning I could sense that the CID was doing a shoddy investigation. Their effort was not to reach to the truth but how to save the accused and bail them out. The incident happened in the wee hours of 23rd May, 1987. We registered cases at two police stations Murad Nagar and Link Road and made SHOs the investigating officers. But before we could do anything, on May 24, the investigation was handed over to the CID by the then chief minister Veer Bhadra Singh.
Later, when I went deeper and read the case diaries of CID, I was shocked to discover that the case diaries had more records of defence as if you are reading the brief of a defence lawyer and very little of the prosecutor. The State should have taken it as a test case to deliver justice.

You said the State should have taken it as a test case, Why?

This has been the biggest custodial killing after independence. Never, has it happened that the State take so many people in custody and kill them in cold blood. This is something one must remember. In all other big communal riots like 1984 anti-Sikh riots or Nellie massacre you can blame the police for not doing enough or being a spectator but not of doing custodial killings. It is important to unveil the big conspiracy that went into Hashimpura massacre so it could serve as a warning to those who perpetrate such crimes but get away without any punishment.

The world knows it as massacre done by the PAC but you say it was a bigger conspiracy. How?

The most important role in this massacre was of the Army that was never investigated by the CID.

The PAC Company of the 41st battalion involved in massacre was led by sub inspector Surenderpal Singh. Its impossible for an SI level officer to take such a big decision to conspire and kill so many people? Would the constables under him be part of such a big crime? Moreover, this company officially was not deployed there. I have been telling this to the CID since day one. Senior level police officers and Army were definitely involved in the conspiracy.

One Major Jolly, who was leading the Army column deployed at Hashimpura on May 19 has not been cross questioned. Another Army officer Major Satish Kaushik, a close relative of firebrand BJP leader Shakuntala Kaushik, has also not been questioned. The most intriguing thing that CID wrote initially but did not pursue was Major Kaushik presence at Hashimpura during police searches. He had no business to be there on two accounts – one, he was not officially not deployed there and second, as his younger brother was killed just a day ago he should have been at his house grieving and performing religious duties. His presence was highly suspect, why CID did not in interrogate him?

Another big lacuna was that basic principle of criminal investigation to to seize weapon of offence, seal it and deposit it in the Maalkhana was not followed. The weapons used for killing were given back to the PAC. Everybody was shocked how it happened who did it and it still remains a great mystery.

What could be the recourse to justice?

The case should be re-investigated to bring out the real conspiracy and conspirators. A time bound investigation should be relaunched under the supervision of a high court or Supreme Court judge and a committee of three eminent IPS officers should be constituted to oversee the investigation. Or else it will always weigh heavy on the conscience of India.

Courtesy DNA

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